ISLAMABAD: Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan has been hitting the roof since April 29 when a tweet about the pregnancy of a 21-year-old girl by a political leader surfaced. No name was named but Imran vehemently insists that it was about him.
There was hardly any talk show that he attended in which he didn’t let the audience know something that the majority didn’t know before, especially those who are not on Twitter or Facebook. In each interview, he acknowledged that the tweet under question was by Umar Cheema (this correspondent) but accused Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman (publisher of the Jang Group) of initiating this ‘attack’ through me. In a press conference on Saturday, he said there are some journalists of this media group who are ‘launched’ when something averse to the top management is uttered.
Before I get to the tweet issue and his allegations, I wish Imran Khan could understand the difference between the PTI and the Jang Group. Speak to any person and he will get to know the editorial freedom that journalists of this group enjoy. In cases, they publicly differ with each other and take divergent positions without questioning each other’s intentions. Hassan Nisar, who writes favourably of the PTI, also belongs to this group. Imran Khan’s favourite anchor, Hamid Mir, is also part and parcel of this organisation. Ansar Abbasi, yet another favourite journalist of the PTI chief, has been affiliated with this publication for more than a decade-and-a-half. Did he ever care to check how many times they were dictated to by the top management?
Imran Khan is also unable to understand that journalists are surrogates of the public. They are considered the guardians of public interest and their job is different from employees of any other organisation. In cases, they have resigned on principled grounds when forced to toe a particular line or prohibited from taking a position they consider right. Imtiaz Alam’s resignation from Express TV is a recent example. Journalism is a profession of intellectuals. A journalist has to be convinced of what he is going to do. If Imran Khan is thick these days with the anchors who are taking advice from a special office, it doesn’t mean that his critics are also working on somebody’s wishes and whims.
As far as the tweet under question is concerned, let me reproduce it first. On April 29 at 9:47pm, I tweeted this: “Pregnancy of a 21-year girl is causing sleepless nights to a leader. His political future in her hands…the most powerful lady these days.” One wonders if there was the name of any politician or hint about any party affiliation. If not, then why did Imran Khan think it was about him? One can only mourn his sagacity.
He used this tweet to settle scores with the Jang Group. Initially, he targeted this media house by throwing the ridiculous allegations of rigging in the general elections. When nobody took his words seriously, Imran said actually his decision of boycotting the media house was motivated by the ‘character assassination’ campaign against him on the social media. Upon insistence, he named me for this and thought I did it on the behest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.
While accusing me of this, he failed to remember my pro-PTI stories that he had been tweeting. Not only Imran, the Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had also been referring to my stories as a testimony of the work his government is doing. Did I do those stories to please him and on the dictations of my publisher?
Although Imran was told through different channels that the tweet was my independent decision and it had nothing to do with the media group to which I belong, he continues to insist otherwise, reflecting his malafide intentions. He is focusing on my tweet altogether forgetting that a somewhat more explicit tweet was done by Murtaza Solangi, former DG Radio Pakistan, on March 26. Also the fact remains that the New York-based Pakistan Post did a report naming Imran Khan. The same was done by India Today. Imran Khan has served a defamation notice to neither newspaper and has been gunning for the Jang Group that carried no such story. I had filed my tweet story a few days ago, but it was not published. For Imran Khan’s information, one of my colleagues, Mumtaz Alvi, filed a story on February 1, 2014 that also carried information about a sex scandal. The report was withheld by our news editor Qamar Abbas for lack of a version. Alvi again filed the story with a version but it could not satisfy our editors and hence it was not carried. One wonders if Imran has any problem with the information only or the information coming from a journalist. Jemima Khan, his ex-wife, tweeted four years back about his vacations in Spain. “I now travel with 3 ipods in place of children- my two boys and my teenage stepdaughter en route to Spain for a week,” her tweet said. “My teenage stepdaughter,” was apparently an oblique reference to Imran’s daughter Tyrian, from Sita White. When a journalist reported that Jemima had been appointed as the legal guardian of Tyrian, the PTI media cell was fuming with anger over it.